Dr. Brenda Garcia-Diaz of DOE's Savannah River National LaboratoryGarcia-Diaz expands research horizons at Savannah River

For Dr. Brenda Garcia-Diaz of DOE's Savannah River National Laboratory, job satisfaction and collaboration have gone hand in hand, and have led to official recognition within her adopted home state.

“The best part of the job has been working with people,” she says. “I’m impressed with the depth of knowledge that is in SRNL, and I have seen over and over how we can target very difficult problems by getting the right people together and forming effective teams.

“It’s been great to see and work with people with different backgrounds who can open your mind … To address the challenges we face today, it requires teams with deep backgrounds in a variety of skill sets. I have been lucky to have several opportunities where teams started with nothing and created something great by combining different knowledge and experiences.”

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What is the Future of Cool?What is the Future of Cool? Science Community discusses the state of magnetic cooling technology

The household refrigerator, sitting in the corner of virtually every U.S. kitchen, has been essentially the same for almost 100 years; air-conditioning, based on the same technology, almost 75 years. But with the traditional vapor-compression model reaching its limits for advancement in efficiency, cooling still eats up as much as one quarter of U.S. daily energy consumption.

So, what if refrigeration systems could be even better? What is the future of cool? DOE’s Ames Laboratory, together with the larger scientific community, believes it could be magnetic cooling, a refrigeration system which exploits the magnetocaloric effect—a temperature change of a material caused by exposing it to a changing magnetic field. Scientists have been attempting for years to push this promising energy-efficient alternative over the gap between fundamental research and applied technology.

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See also…

DOE Pulse
  • Number 449  |
  • October 5, 2015
  • Team announces breakthrough observation of Mott transition in a superconductor

    Scientists announced the first observation of a dynamic vortex Mott transition, which experimentally connects the worlds of quantum mechanics and classical physics and could shed light on the poorly understood world of non-equilibrium physics. Image courtesy Valerii Vinokur/Argonne National Laboratory. An international team of researchers, including the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, announced in Science the observation of a dynamic Mott transition in a superconductor.

    The discovery experimentally connects the worlds of classical and quantum mechanics and illuminates the mysterious nature of the Mott transition. It also could shed light on non-equilibrium physics, which is poorly understood but governs most of what occurs in our world. The finding may also represent a step towards more efficient electronics based on the Mott transition.

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  • Exposing the flexible boundary between phases in supercritical fluids

    Dima Bolmatov and NSLS-II IXS beamline group leader Yong Cai making adjustments at the beamline experimental end station. Imagine a gas giant planet like Jupiter. Where does the surface begin and the atmosphere end? Questions like these can be answered by understanding the boundaries between phases of matter, which we sometimes think of as delineated by strong boundaries.

    But expose certain gases to enough pressure and heat, and they will enter a hinterland between the phases where they can have the properties of both a gas and a liquid at the same time. This extraordinary behavior of ordinary liquids in the “supercritical” phase is exploited for use in many technologies, for example in decaffeinating coffee, producing pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and even dry-cleaning and nuclear waste cleanup.

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  • Muon g-2 magnet successfully cooled down and powered up

    The superconducting magnet of the Muon g-2 experiment. Two years ago, scientists on the Muon g-2 experiment successfully brought a fragile, expensive and complex 17-ton electromagnet on a 3,200-mile land and sea trek from DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

    Now, the magnet is one step closer to serving its purpose as the centerpiece of an experiment to probe the mysteries of the universe with subatomic particles called muons. The ring—now installed in a new, specially designed building at Fermilab—was successfully cooled down to operating temperature (minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and powered up, proving that even after a decade of inactivity, it remains a vital and viable scientific instrument.

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  • New technique removes barrier to development of biofuel cells

    Gold nanoclusters (~1 nm) are efficient mediators of electron transfer between co-self-assembled enzymes and carbon nanotubes in an enzyme fuel cell. The efficient electron transfer from this quantized nano material minimizes the energy waste and improves the kinetics of the oxygen reduction reaction, toward a more efficient fuel cell cycle. With fossil-fuel sources dwindling, better biofuel cell design is a strong candidate in the energy field. In research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers at DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory and external collaborators synthesized and characterized a new DNA-templated gold nanocluster (AuNC) that could resolve a critical methodological barrier for efficient biofuel cell design.

    “Enzymatic fuel cells and nanomaterials show great promise—and as they can operate under environmentally benign neutral pH conditions, they are a greener alternative to existing alkaline or acidic fuel cells, making them the subject of worldwide research endeavors,” said Saumen Chakraborty, a scientist on the project. “Our work seeks to boost electron transfer efficiency, creating a potential candidate for the development of cathodes in enzymatic fuel cells.”

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